Week 8 preview: Vikings vs Packers, Freeman out

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The first-place Packers take on the last-place Vikings at Mall of America Field Sunday night. The rivalry doesn't feel as intense because the 1-5 Vikings are buried alone at the bottom of the NFC North division.

If you miss that burning passion, check out an amazing photo gallery of the Vikings-Packers rivalry through the years. It's 82 pictures that you need to see.

As for this week, the Vikings face Aaron Rodgers, who has torched Minnesota for 2,840 yards, 24 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 12 career games. That stat courtesy of the Pioneer Press.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: For the Packers? A spot on the top of the NFC North standings. For the Vikings? Nothing other than bragging rights.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Minnesota trails the all-time series 49-55-1. The most recent meeting came in the wild-card round of the playoffs last season. Christian Ponder, who threw for three touchdowns in a week 17, playoff-clinching win over Green Bay last season, did not play in the game due to injury. Joe Webb got the spot start and he was brutally bad and the Packers rolled to the divisional round with a 24-10 victory.

PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Christian Ponder because he's back in the starting role thanks to a Josh Freeman concussion. Ponder hasn't played since breaking a rib against the Browns week three.

WHAT THE OTHER GUYS ARE SAYING: Read all the blatant shots this unnamed NFL scout took at the Vikings in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel right here. This one is particularly eye-opening in regards to Josh Freeman.

"To throw 53 times is mind-boggling. Freeman is inconsistent, not accurate and doesn't have any poise. The guy is not a good quarterback. Same guy he was in college. If they got any chance they've just got to pound (Adrian) Peterson no matter what."

INJURY REPORT: Josh Freeman has been ruled out even though he returned to practice Friday. Tight end Rhett Ellison, running back Matt Asiata and wide receiver Rodney Smith. Safety Jamarca Sanford is questionable after hurting his knee in practice this week.

For the Packers, James Jones is doubtful with a sprained knee. That leaves Jordy Nelson as the only healthy top-4 wide receiver on the depth chart.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I think I was playing with a lot of pressure on myself before and never felt in sync. Now is the opportunity to take that deep breath and go out and have fun again. I already got benched, so it can't get worse than that." -- Christian Ponder

THE LATEST LINE, OUR PREDICTION: Green Bay is a 10-point favorite. That's a lot at home, and the Packers are on the road. However, Rodgers will be tight end Jermichael Finley and possibly wide receiver James Jones. That leaves Jordy Nelson to hurt the Vikings' weak secondary. Maybe we're crazy, but Ponder's edgy attitude has given us some (false) hope, so we're taking the Vikings in a huge upset, 24-21. 

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